iOS 14.5 was released yesterday (2021/04/26), bringing a whole host of changes that have been heavily covered on all of the major tech news outlets. Two of the changes, App Tracking Transparency and Apple Watch unlock for iPhone, caught my eye.
I’ve read the details on App Tracking Transparency, and I like what Apple is doing, though I’ve not actually experienced any of the changes myself yet. The TL;DR version is that companies are now blocked from tracking you across other apps by default, and you have to explicitly give them permission to do so, whereas before it was enabled by default, and you had to manually disable tracking. I don’t use many apps that this would apply to personally (from what I’ve seen at least), but I think this is a win for privacy-conscious individuals everywhere. For more details of the changes, see Why Apple’s new privacy feature is such a big deal by The Verge.
The feature that I have actively been using for the last 24 hours is the unlocking of your iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask. Basically, if you have an unlocked Apple Watch on your arm and near your iPhone when you attempt to unlock via Face ID, your iPhone will… unlock! No more having to remove your mask briefly, or use your passcode! While using my passcode has not been a huge deal for me, it can be an annoyance when trying to check my shopping list, reply to a message quickly, etc.. And, as with most things Apple, the new unlocking process is simple and flawless so far, and while it reduces security slightly.
A few notes: Apple Watch unlock is not enabled by default, so the user has to manually enable it in settings. Also, when this unlock method is used, a button comes up instantly on your Apple Watch, allowing to you re-lock your iPhone, and then requiring your full PIN/password to unlock.
While this option does reduce the security of your iPhone slightly, the convenience is worth it in my opinion, and Apple has taken some concerns into account when designing the feature.
For more technical details on Apple Watch unlock, see the Apple’s support page on the topic: Unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch when you’re wearing a face mask.